UT to host International Human Trafficking Conference

September 15, 2014 | Events, News, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, — Social Justice and Human Service
By Aimee Portala

The Ohio End Demand Act was signed into law in June in front of a coalition of supporters and trafficking survivors. The End Demand Act increases the penalty for purchasing sex from a minor from a misdemeanor to a felony.

word handThis legislation follows the successfully enacted Safe Harbor Act, which provides a safe haven and needed services for victims as well as increased penalties for traffickers.

The End Demand Act is aimed at reducing the illicit “consumer” demand for sex trafficking along with other important provisions to combat this crime

Dr. Celia Williamson, UT professor of social work, has focused on raising awareness about sex trafficking for more than a decade.

“The way to move people to action is to first get them educated on the issue and then provide them with the tools to respond to the issue. That’s what we hope the conference does for both the general public as well as researchers, activists, and those involved in the helping professions across the U.S. and abroad,” she said.

The 11th annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference will take place Thursday and Friday, Sept. 18 and 19, in the Student Union.

Hosted by The University of Toledo, Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, the conference brings together researchers, practitioners and others to educate attendees on human trafficking and lay the groundwork for future collaborative research, advocacy and program development.

Dr. Joel Filmore will deliver the keynote address, chronicling his 11-year journey as a victim of homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution in Chicago to recently earning his doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Northern Illinois University.

Other featured presenters include:

• Judge Paul Herbert, who will discuss the Franklin County Municipal Court docket “Changing Actions to Change Habits” (CATCH). CATCH is an innovative, voluntary, two-year program designed to rescue and restore those trapped in the sex trade through intensive probation and rehabilitation services.

• State Rep. Teresa Fedor will cover legislative updates, including the recent End Demand Act and last year’s Safe Harbor Act, and how these initiatives have shaped Ohio policy.

• Abdul-Hadeem O. Alli, a journalist from Nigeria, will examine the impact of the abduction of Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls and will discuss the ongoing efforts of the Nigerian government in ensuring the girls’ safe return to their families.

The Freedom Drivers Project, a mobile exhibit presented by Truckers Against Trafficking, also will be present at the conference. The project is designed to educate members of the trucking industry and the general public about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how the trucking industry is combating it. Truckers Against Trafficking is a national, nonprofit organization that provides training to members of the trucking and travel plaza industries and engages them in the war against both sex and work victimization.

Tours of the Freedom Drivers Project exhibit are open to the public Friday, Sept. 19, from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m.

Truckers Against Trafficking and the Freedom Drivers Project also will be key in assisting with the specially designed, age-appropriate conference track for area high school students.

Other topics to be discussed during the two-day conference will include heightened sex trafficking incidents in relation to the Super Bowl; the high number of transgender women buying sex in Chicago; and the sex tourism industry.

For more information, visit traffickingconference.com or email traffickingconference@gmail.com.

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